Page 71 of Court of Nightmares

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“I’m so sorry—”

“I’m sorry I yelled—” We both start at the same time and then laugh, all nerves leaving as he reaches over and takes my hand.

I grip his like a lifeline. “I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“I know. I’m sorry I yelled. I might not like it, but I know why you did it,” he replies. “I liked the get-up though.” He wiggles his brows. “Very Blade.”

“Exactly what I said!” I gush, and he laughs. “I missed you,” I murmur, and his gaze drops to the table. “Tell me everything. How have you been? Have you found the love of your life yet, the one to tame you?” I plead. I’ve missed him so much, and all I thought about when I was sick was that I hoped he was happy. I need to know that I didn’t give him up for nothing.

“It’s been . . . hard,” he hedges.

“Please tell me, and don’t sugar-coat it. We never did before.” I squeeze his hand. Although I wish he had found happiness, I won’t shy away from his pain.

“Well, after you left, I went a little . . . crazy. I searched for you, and when I couldn’t find you, I blamed them, the court, and started getting into fights.”

Oh, Simon was never good at fighting.

As if he can hear my thoughts, he cracks a smile. “It didn’t go well. They punished me and gave me warnings, but what else could they do? Well, one night, I got drunk and I saw him . . .” He looks at me worriedly. “The man you were supposed to mate.”

I flinch, and he stops, but I squeeze his hand.

“I lost it. He was sitting there without a care in the world, with girls draped all over him, and it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that he had everything while you lost everything because of him. I just snapped. I managed to cut him up pretty good, but he’s a king.” His hand drifts self-consciously to his scar. “They burned this into me as a reminder to never attack him again. I think the only reason they didn’t kill me was because they felt sorry for me.”

“I like it. It makes you look distinguished,” I say, sensing his insecurity, “but I wish you hadn’t done that. It doesn’t matter.”

“It did to me. He hurt you, Thea. He hurt my best friend. He needed to pay for that. I’m so sorry, Thea. I wish I had done more when it happened. I wish I had done things differently.”

“We cannot change the past,” I tell him as I take a sip of my coffee. “But we have now, and I’m okay. Seriously, I’m better than okay. I’m good. I’m really good.”

“You look it, but how?” he asks.

“Long story, but answer me first. Have you found anyone?” I wiggle my eyebrows. He blushes and looks away, and I almost clap giddily. “You did!”

“Er, it’s not exactly normal, but yeah.” He scrubs at his head. “I shouldn’t mention it.”

I laugh. “We’ve never been normal.”

“He’s not a vamp, Thea.” He waits, expecting judgement.

“So fucking what? Are you happy?” I retort.

“So happy. I met him when I was in a really dark place, and he saved me, Thea. I tried to push him away, feeling guilty for being happy when you weren’t there, but he stayed. He always stays, and he fights for me every day,” he gushes, a warm gleam in his eyes.

“That’s all that matters. I don’t care if he’s a bloody troll as long as he loves you like you deserve.”

“Not a troll, but he is a wolf,” he admits shyly.

“You dirty dog.” I lean in. “Is it true about the whole mating thing? You know, the moon and the bites?”

“Oh Nox, yes, it’s even better. His people didn’t like me at first, but he didn’t care. He just declared that I was his and said to hell with it. Now I spend more time with the pack than the court unless they call me back.”

I can’t help but press for details. “His dick—”

We are standing right here.

“So big,” Simon replies.

Althea, Nathair admonishes with a sigh.

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